Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Sammiches, Chicken and Garbage – 2017 In Review (Part 1)

Every year there are things that are humorous but don’t merit an entire  blog post. So to clear the deck for 2018 and have some more chuckles in 2017, here are some leftovers!

A Monumental Event

My fans have been waiting for this a long time, some women have even been demanded it from me.  Some said it would never happen, others claimed it could not be done.  But during my summer vacation this year, I, Don Ake, made my wife a sammich!

I know you are stunned, but it is true.  I figured no one would believe me, so I took a photo of my remarkable creation.  The pic is not to impress anyone, nor make me look super amazing. No, not at all. You know I would never do that.
But the photo shown here is proof for all you doubters and haters out there.

My wife was surprised and impressed when she returned from the beach to find her sammich.  She was also pleased that it was edible and that I did not make a mess.  Served with a side of chips, it made for a tasty lunch.  I have notified the Food Channel of my abilities, but no response as of yet.

It’s Just A Sammich – Nothing More

In August, I took a local client to lunch at a place called “Grinders”.  They serve delicious submarine sandwiches, grinder being another, somewhat archaic term, for that type of sandwich.  However, when submitting your expense report to your home office located in another state, it may not be clear what the term “entertained client at Grinders” actually means.

There could be questions such as:

What type of grinding was involved in this so-called entertainment?

Was there any bumping going on along with this grinding?

Did any of the ladies working there remove any clothing as part of this entertainment?

Were there any cash tips involved that may or may not be included on your expense report under “Miscellaneous” expenses?

Now in the interest of providing the ultimate in customer service to my clients, I would have endured a bawdier environment. But this was not the case.  It was just sammiches, excellent sammiches at that.  The waitresses were fully clothed the entire time. And this being an establishment that caters to an older crowd, you would never want them to remove any clothing. In fact, if they tried, I would have tipped them generously to refrain.  I will admit to sticking one of the grinders in my mouth, and that’s all.

The Worst Dinner of the Year

While dining at a local restaurant, my wife ordered the 3-piece chicken dinner.  There are basic expectations here. It will be chicken and there will be three pieces.  My wife was served two pieces of chicken and a rock-hard, baked? – probably under-microwaved, potato.  The waitress successfully delivered the third piece of chicken upon request. However, the baked potato had to be sent back a second time for additional microwaving.  Of course, this blatant incompetency was entirely my fault because I selected the restaurant.  I think the staff could use some additional training.  Question #1 on the final test: How many pieces of chicken are in the 3-piece chicken dinner?

Runner Up: A bar-and-grill where one of my groups meet, serves chicken tenders which have a greenish tint.  The chicken tastes okay, it just looks funny.  I will never order it. Why?

I do not like green chick and fries
I do not like them, with the guys
I do not like them in the bar
I do not like them in my car ….

The Biggest Cojones of the Year

In September, a major credit reporting service announced that in May, that would be four months earlier, massive amounts of highly-sensitive, financial data they are allowed to collect on you and 143 million other people, had been hacked.

Now your personal data may or may not have been hacked, since they never sent out a letter informing you for sure.  However, a week after their announcement, this same company was advertising a protection service that stops digital pirates from doing evil things with your stolen data, such as maybe draining all your bank accounts. The ads warn: You are in great danger if these hackers have all your personal financial data.   

Of course, this danger is why you should have guarded my data much better than you did.  But by your gross incompetence, you did create 143 million potential new customers for your swell protective services.  I will not be one of them.  This takes cojones, big cojones. And if I ever meet the person responsible for this breech, I will kick him square in the cojones.

Worst Brown Out of the Year

My neighborhood was suffering cable outages and the technician traced the problem to the line extension in my bedroom.  He asked me how much I watched that TV and I explained “I only watch it when I poop”.  So my desire to watch TV when I poop was shorting out, or more like browning-out, the entire neighborhood system.  We decided to solve the problem by using the Internet. So now I am streaming video while I am streaming other things.

Worst Customer Service of the Year

My trash removal provider changed our pickup day from Tuesday to Friday.  I was not happy with this move because it meant my trash would be picked up on the last day of the week.  As someone whose last name begins with the letter “A” I am used to being at the front of the line, not the back.  I expect to be treated with the respect I deserve, even by my trash company.

Everything was fine until one week when the trash in our neighborhood was not picked up on Friday.  I don’t know if they accidentally skipped us, ran out of time for the week, or whatever.  Regardless, they should have picked up the trash as soon as possible, even if that had to incur additional costs.

When I messaged them through their website, I was informed my garbage would be picked up on Monday.  However, when my wife called their office early Monday morning to confirm, she was told the trash would be picked up on Tuesday.  But it wasn’t picked up Monday, nor was it picked up Tuesday.  A call to them late Tuesday resulted in a commitment for Wednesday, which of course did not happen. The neighbors were enraged! The neighborhood
raccoons? Joyful.

The good news is the trash was finally, and triumphantly for the neighborhood, picked up on Thursday, only six days late.  And then the garbage truck came back on Friday for the regular pick-up, but strangely there was very little trash to collect.  Customer service of this level takes a special type of stupid and most of the neighbors have switched to a new provider who dutifully picks up our trash every Wednesday without fail.

Tommy Timothy Tobias Trout
Would not haul my garbage out
He’d tell us fibs and tell us lies
While coons were happy and so were flies
And though the neighbors would scream and shout
He simply would not haul my garbage out …..

 (Part 2 next week)

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Story of the Christmas Goose – A Touching Tale

Disclaimer: This is a true story and I decided a year ago it would be my next Christmas blog.  It should not in any way be seen as a social commentary about more serious issues currently in the news.  However, if you are offended, please do not feel obligated to buy me a Christmas present this year, and we will call it “even”.

Christmas is coming
The goose is getting fat

It’s that special time of year again. Gather ‘round, children. And this year, I do mean all you adult-children (better send the youngin’s into the other room when you read this one). Your Uncle Don has another heartwarming Christmas tale from days of yore, that will make the season bright.  It’s a touching, a very touching, story indeed.

Some years ago, when your Uncle Don was younger and thinner, he got himself an invitation to a combination surprise birthday/Christmas party for his coworker John.  What could be better than that, children? Two parties in one. A chance to celebrate John’s birthday along with the Baby Jesus’ at the same time. 

And this was going to be a big shindig, children, as a group of John’s coworkers were invited, as well as friends from his neighborhood. Now John lived many miles north of the office, so this party would be a coming together of the prosperous yuppies of the south and the well-to-do preppies of the north.

Uncle Don and his wife made the hour-long trek over the interstate and through the highway to John’s house on a cold Saturday night.  The scene was so Christmassy, children, with the snow on the ground reflecting the festive lights on the house. A large picture window was lit up and decorated with a beautiful garland.

There were over 40 people in attendance, fairly evenly split between work folk and neighbors.  We all gathered together in the living room to surprise John, sing “Happy Birthday”, and shower him with gifts and well-wishes.  Your Uncle Don even cracked a couple funny jokes, as he is known to do.  The party had gotten off to a wonderful start, children, just a wonderful start.

Then something disturbing happened, children.  After the birthday portion of the party ended. People filled their plates with goodies and broke off into numerous groups to share the joyfulness of the seaon.  But there was segregation. And you know segregation is a bad, bad thing, especially at Christmastime. The northern yuppies were in their groups and the southern yuppies were clustered in theirs.  There was lots of Kris-Kring-a-ling, but no intermingling, going on, children.

Then a mericle happened children, another one of Uncle Don’s Christmas mericles. Uncle Don and his wife were in a group of people enjoying the Christmas merriment, when Uncle Don looked down at his plate and saw it was empty!  Fortunately, Uncle Don was standing in the kitchen and there were plenty of free appetizers nearby, so he excused himself from the conversation and went to reload.

Uncle Don had almost reached the food, when Chad, one of the neighbors (the northerners), made a reference to a joke Uncle Don had told earlier and motioned for him to join their conversation!  The south would now be socializing with the north. It was a great Christmas moment, children, not unlike something you would see in a Hallmark special.

Chad was over in a far corner of the kitchen, near the sink. To Chad’s left was his wife Marla and to his right was another neighbor, Cindy, who was short, thin and reasonably attractive.  Uncle Don greeted everyone and we began a pleasant holiday conversation. We was coming together children, we was coming together.

Chad and Uncle Don were doing all the laughing and talking, the ladies were just listening. That is why Uncle Don didn’t notice Cindy moving closer to his left side. And then while Chad was talking, Cindy slyly reached behind Uncle Don and squeezed his left buttock. Oh my, children! I Uncle Don had received a big Christmas goose, but it wasn’t cooked and sitting on the dinner table. A
holiday goose was on the loose!

Your Uncle Don thought maybe he had just imagined the goose or, perhaps it was a mistake. He looked down at Cindy and was greeted with a wry, saucy smile.  Although she had a drink in her left hand, her eyes were crystal clear.  No, there definitely was a gooser in the kitchen.

At that moment it was important for Uncle Don to respond quickly and calmly to this wild goose or the party and even Christmas itself was in jeopardy.  Uncle Don did not smile back at her, even politely. Any hint of encouragement and she may have started dry-humping his leg like a horny Chihuahua right there in front of everyone. Uncle Don didn’t know if he was dealing with a Christmas nymph or a Christmas nympho. But he also didn’t want to appear shocked or repulsed.  If that was the response Cindy desired, the goose could turn into a gaggle.

Instead, Uncle Don gave her his best “James Bond” stare. A confident expression, showing little emotion, as if this was no big deal because his   buns got squeezed all the time. Most importantly, Uncle Don needed to throw her off track and think about her next move because there was another potential problem.

Uncle Don’s wife was standing only about 15 feet away, directly behind him.  He slowly and cautiously looked over his left shoulder.  His wife was facing the opposite direction so she was oblivious to the goose.  Everything in that group of people looked fine. It appeared no one had seen it or alerted her by saying: “That cute chick just grabbed Don’s @$$, you better get over there.” All was still calm, all was still bright.

This was most fortunate. If Uncle Don’s wife would had caught the goose, there could have been a bah-humbug hubbub. His wife often moved around 50-pound bags of material on her job.  It would not have been difficult for her to hoist up that little chicky-mama, carry her to the front room, and toss her right through that big ‘ol picture window.
Now that would have been a spectacular Christmas lighting display, children. With glass shattering everywhere, shimmering in the many colors of the holiday lights. Poor Cindy would have landed face-down in the yard creating an awesome snow angel, well maybe it would have been more like snow fallen-angel.

It would have been a spectacular end to this Christmas party, children, and people would have talked about it for years. And yeah, it would have kinda “hot”. But Uncle Don did not want anything like that to happen to embarrass his friend John and ruin his party. Besides, that picture window looked very expensive and Uncle Don’s December budget was already tighter than his backside, being Christmas and all.  Because of this disastrous possibility, Uncle Don needed to ensure there were no more geese in that kitchen.

Like a Civil War General who was under attack, Uncle Don moved swiftly to guard his flanks, specifically his left flank, which had been exposed and gotten pinched. He moved to his right and turned slightly so his buns were now temporarily out of reach.  He had successfully employed his rear guard.  The conversation continued, but it is extremely difficult to concentrate when your butt can get grabbed at any moment.

Uncle Don waited for a break, said his goodbyes (got the same sassy look from Cindy), loaded up his plate, and returned to his prior group chit-chat. No one was the wiser. However, like a good General, Uncle Don kept his rear-guard employed, backside always pointed at the wall, for the rest of the evening.  And he made sure he knew where the wild gooser was at all times.

Now Uncle Don knows what some of you children are thinkin’ and you are being naughty. Yes, you are having naughty, naughty thoughts. And let me remind you that Santa does reward naughty children.  You are thinkin’ that Uncle Don must have been a flirtin’ with that woman to attract that Christmas goose.  I can assure you that there was no flirtin’, none. Because Cindy didn’t say anything. She was the kind of women who talked with her hands, whose actions spoke louder than any words could. Maybe it was just Uncle Don’s magnetic personality that attracted her hand to his cheek, but there was no flirtin’, none.

Monday morning John stopped by Uncle Don’s office and asked if he had a good time at the party.

“It was great”, he said.  But Uncle Don couldn’t hide the big smirk on his face.

“What?” demanded John.

He motioned for John to come closer and said quietly, “Your neighbor Cindy pinched my butt”.

John was embarrassed and began to profusely apologize.  Uncle Don assured him everything was fine.  John said she had also goosed one of his neighbors. “I think she was drunk”, he said.  He then asked Uncle Don if he had told his wife.

Sometimes coworkers ask you the dumbest questions ever, children. Just stupid ones.  What was Uncle Don supposed to say? “Hey, you know that short, cute brunette at the party? Well, she grabbed my @$$.”  It was already a long, cold, ride back, why make it any longer or colder. I also have a big picture window at my house and – well, why risk it?

I didn’t challenge John’s assumption about whether Cindy was drunk.  I still thought she knew exactly what she was doing.  A couple years later, John and Uncle Don were reminiscing about that party and he told Uncle Don that Cindy had recently divorced.  That didn’t surprise Uncle Don a bit, children.  A woman with hands that active is sure to feel someone or something that elicits a response.  No doubt she had been reaching around some guy, grabbing his butt cheeks with both hands, while enthusiastically pulling him towards her – if you get my drift, children.  And I so much hope you do, because Uncle Don doesn’t want to have to draw you a picture.

Isn’t that the most touching Christmas story you have ever heard, children?  I know I was touched by it.  Really, really, touched by it. It is literally a touching tale, because she was touching, my tail.

So I would suggest this Christmas, and especially at all work functions and holiday parties, that you keep your hands to yourself and ask permission before taking any actions under that mistletoe.  What happens under the mistletoe, stays under the mistletoe, unless your dorky friend takes a pic and posts it.  Then it goes everywhere.  When it comes to Christmas, children, the goose belongs roasted on the table, and not served on the buns.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Middle-Age-Man-Rage Strikes Again

Recently a dispute between two men in their 50’s made the news.  This conflict involving next-door-neighbors in an upscale, gated community resulted in one of the men receiving six broken ribs, including three displaced (serious) fractures.  The reason for the fight is still unknown, but speculation is it may have been over grass clippings, or some other trivial matter.

This incident only made the news because one of the subjects is a U.S. Senator, but I believe fights such as this, involving middle-age men, happen all over the world on a daily basis. Why are these guys so angry that they are crackin’ ribs over inconsequential matters? It’s all the result of something I’ll call   Middle-Age-Man-Rage.

But what causes Middle-Age-Man-Rage? To understand this, we must track a man’s progression through  his age periods.  The capability of a man to mature is dependent how his ability to manage and control his testosterone.  This is much harder than it sounds and if you follow the news, you know some guys never quite figure it out.

Young guys (age 18-30) are filling up with testosterone and are trying to establish their territory and develop their image.  They will eagerly resort to fisticuffs (or unfortunately, gunfire) if either of these is threatened.  They will fight over almost anything, especially women, with little regard for the consequences.

Men (age 31-49), let’s call them Trayfers, start to show more maturity as their testosterone amount levels out and they learn to manage it. By this time, their territory and image has been reasonably established.  They have a better perspective on life and realize that most women are not worth fighting for. 

Whoa! Time out!  This statement is not a put down to you ladies!  Reread the sentence. Even though you are worth competing for, wooing and courting, actual physical confrontations become rare after men reach a certain age. So please calm down.  And I did say “most”.  Yes, there are some women literally worthy fighting for.  If I were single when I was in my 30’s, I would have readily put up my dukes for the likes of Marie Osmond or Shania Twain.  Fortunately, (for the other guy) I was never given this opportunity.

Now, you must remember the general description for Trayfers does not apply to men with very high levels of testosterone. These guys will continue to aggressively acquire more image and territory at any cost.  They will antagonistically pursue power, money and hoochie. These bass-turds often become CEOs and bosses, not because they are any better or any smarter, but because they just desire it more and eliminate the competition.

But sometime during your 50s, an extremely dreadful change begins.  Your testosterone levels steadily decrease resulting in various deleterious changes to your body.  In addition, you suffer a pronounced loss of influence.  Your “territory” and image (among other things) actually begins to shrink.  The results are devastating to the male ego and psyche.  For example:

-         Young women begin calling you “Sir”, not as a sign of respect, but because you are old.  It is code for: “I know you find me beautiful and I know you find me desirous, but you are way too old for me.”

-         At work, you are no longer a rising star, but a fading light.  You may find yourself reporting to a younger, empty-headed, butthole boss, who is the new golden boy.  You may discover you are the oldest one in the room, however your great wisdom gained through experience is deemed inferior to the swell new ideas from the Millennials.

-         Your children are now adults and don’t listen to you at all anymore.  Your daughter even values the financial advice of her dope-smoking, community-activist husband, more than yours.

-         Your wife doesn’t listen to you because she’s heard it all before, numerous times. You are just a broken record in an MP3 world.

-         Your female friends start complaining about someone making creepy comments on their Facebook feed. You wonder who this creep is, but then you can’t understand why you just got unfriended.

All this stuff really super fizzes off the ageing male and sends him into Middle-Age-Man-Rage.  He becomes a raging lunatic who feels he is in danger of becoming irrelevant.

In response, he begins to behave oddly to prove he is still significance and has a manly presence. He wants to show that he’s still got it.  He buys a red sports car, wears a toupee, sloshes on the aftershave, dresses age-inappropriately, marries a trophy-wife and wears lots of bling, etc.  This bling thing is the weirdest of all.  One gold chain is borderline silly, but more than one is laughable.  And to strut around shaking your gold bracelet like it is a chick-lure, is ludicrous.

The middle-age guy is trying to hold on to his territory so he tries to expand his sphere of influence any way he can.  This may include cigar smoking, dominating the air space, and manspreading, which is defined as “men sitting in public transport with legs wide apart, thereby covering more than one seat”. (Wikipedia)

Now on this manspreading thing, I will admit that it exists, but I try to give older guys the benefit of the doubt. There may be some things spreading out and expanding which you cannot see.  My philosophy is: “Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his prostate”. Uh, er, well you get the idea.

You have people treating you differently, you are losing your territory, you are losing your influence and you are physically breaking down as more hair is growing on your back than is growing on your head. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! You’re even too old to even transform into the Incredible Hulk, instead your
Middle-Age-Man-Rage can only change you into the Incredible Bulk. Middle-age guys are walking around with a lot of frustration and any little grievance can set them off.

This results in more fights involving guys in their 50’s over stupid, meaningless issues. They will even pick fights with 30-somethings thinking they will kick their @$$ in order to teach them a lesson.  And when they were in their 30’s they could indeed kick their @$$.  But now they are middle-aged and they are no longer the kicker, they often become the kick-ee.  But they try anyway, all due to Middle-Age-Man-Rage.

As their influence and control wanes, middle age guys cling on to anything they can still control. This is why their lawn greatly increases in importance as they age. You will defend your land like a Viking.  While a grumpy old man (very low testosterone) can only shake his fist and yell at people to get off his lawn, a middle-age guy, filled with Middle-Age-Man-Rage will physically fight to protect it!

That’s why it wouldn’t surprise me that the fight involving the Senator and his neighbor was about yard maintenance.  It has to be something trivial, because both parties are too embarrassed to fess up.  And yet, due to Middle-Age-Man-Rage, the result is life-threatening injuries and a 4th-degree assault charge.  Yes, Middle-Age-Man-Rage is real, and painful for all involved. Including and maybe especially, their wives.

Middle-Age-Man-Rage is a dangerous thing. So please be kind to us middle-aged guys. We all already super-fizzed off, no need to aggravate us more. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It’s Killing Me To Try Uber

All fathers have that “Rule #1”, the rule which is repeated countless times with strong and serious emphasis.  For mine it was: Never get in a car with a stranger! If you do, he will kill you and you will end up dead.  “Rule #2” was: Never take candy from a stranger because he will use the candy to lure you into his car. Then he will kill you and you will end up dead.

To make sure this rule was fully understood, it would frequently proclaimed and reinforced by examples.

Newscaster: They just found little Timmy Tucker’s dead body in the woods.

My Dad: You see that!  Timmy got into a stranger’s car and ended up dead. The killer probably gave him some candy. 

The message was clear and it was burned into my brain: NEVER GET INTO A CAR WITH A STRANGER

Now in most cases these rules are never needed – but one day when I was around ten years old, I was playing with my friend Johnny in his front yard.  It was the 60s and I was permitted to roam free in my city block, which contained about 20 houses.  We were distracted from our activity by a group of neighborhood kids, noisily gathered around a brown car parked at the corner of the block.  Johnny and I ran over to see what all the commotion was about.

The other kids who were eagerly munching on something, encouraged me to peer into the car. A short, dark-haired man with a mustache smiled at me, extended his hand and said, “Hey kid, here’s some candy.”

Well, chalk one up for a wise father’s instruction.  Without saying a word, I spun around and made a  mad dash for home.  I assure you I have never run harder in my entire life, with my arms flailing, feet barely touching the ground. In my mind, I was literally running for my life.  I can still remember the jaunt, including reaching the safety of my garage, heart pounding, sides heaving, too winded to climb the stairs up to the house.

When my dad got home from work, I recounted the incident, fully expecting to receive the fatherly praise that all children crave. He asked me if I could identify the guy in the car.  I could.  It was Ray, a friend, though maybe just an acquittance, of my father. He had been over to our house a couple of times.
“If it was Ray, it was okay”, claimed dad. I was stunned.  My father was a literal genius, but this is by far the stupidest thing he ever said to me.

It was definitely “not okay”.  Ray was either a pervert/creeper or he was just plain stupid.  Who sits in his car handing out candy to children whose parents are warning them about this exact activity?  But I had encountered a guy trying to lure me into his car with candy and I had lived, all because I had dutifully followed this rule:


So when I first heard about Uber, I laughed. This has to be the dumbest idea ever.  This company is going to bankrupt fast because no one in their right mind will ever get into a car with a stranger. Because if they do, the stranger will kill them and they will end up dead. They will probably find the body in the woods.

But then Uber became very popular. This growth was fueled mainly by those crazy Millennials who were never taught not to get into a car with a stranger because they never got to stray over ten feet away from adult supervision.  You better hire some more coroners, I thought.  Because soon the woods are going to be stacked up with victims killed by Uber drivers.

I still vowed that I would never use Uber because I would have to get into a car with a stranger and he could kill me and I would end up dead.  I thought people who use Uber were just careless idiots who don’t know any better, and they were going to get their fool selves killed!

However, Uber became so popular that thousands of people, even business travelers, started using it.  People who were paying my travel costs started presenting my options as: You can take a cab (said in a monotone voice) or you can use ♫Uber♫ !!!!

They would prefer I take Uber for the main reason everyone takes Uber – to save money versus a cab fare.  But isn’t money just a form of “adult candy”?  So when you use Uber, you are just getting into a car with a stranger because he offered you candy. Case closed!

And if these business colleagues think I will risk my life so they can save a few measly bucks, they can stick it.  I would gladly pay the difference out of my own pocket because it would save my life!

If I worked at a big corporation, I could just imagine:

Boss: It’s too bad about what happened to Don. I can’t believe they found his body in the woods.

Accounting Geek: Yeah, but he used Uber, so we saved 20 bucks!

Boss: Great! And don’t forget to post that new listing on Monster.com.

But then something disturbing happened.  I needed to get from the airport to the beach on an upcoming mini-vacation. My regular ride wasn’t available and a taxi is oh so expensive. So, the best option available was, was, maybe, possibly, Uu, Uu, ber.  However, this would require me to get into a car with a stranger and as you know, I had extreme reluctance to do that.

I did some research and learned that every Uber driver has a rating based on customer evaluations, using a five-star scale.  This was encouraging since I reasoned that killing a person and dumping their body it the woods could significantly lower the rating for that driver.

In addition, before you agree to the ride, you get to see your prospective driver’s name on your iPhone.  So I could reject anyone named Hannibal, Chucky, Freddy, Jason, and perhaps even Ray. With my luck, my first time the app would say: “Your driver is Charles Manson” – Yes, we kept his work-release job secret because we didn’t want to alarm anyone.

An advertisement for Uber declares: “Every Driver Has A Story” and claims even triathletes and chess grandmasters drive for Uber.  I just hoped my driver’s story was not “A Nightmare On Elm Street”.
Is Freddy an Uber driver? 

I installed the app, but was still nervous.  So I did what any strong, macho man would do in this situation. I brought my wife along, which at my age is the teenage equivalent of bringing your mom.  But I did this because my wife is excellent at keeping her calm in stressful situations.  Besides that, it would be much more difficult for an Uber driver to kill two people versus one.

To add to the drama, we would be summoning the ride late at night on the day after Halloween. My hope was that all the Freddy Kruegers of the world had quenched their bloodthirsts the night before and were exhausted at home cleaning off their knives.  Let me assure you, if it had been Halloween night, I would have paid for the cab.

Our plane landed and I was shaking slightly when I hit enter and ordered the ride.  The driver (who fortunately was not Charles Manson) arrived, but wouldn’t you know it, he was a foreigner! A FOREIGNER!!!!!!!   We really, really need to do something to secure those borders!  Okay, he was Frenchman. A young, handsome Frenchman named Frederic.   I think my wife wanted to give him five stars before he even pulled away from the curb.

When Frederic found out this was my first Uber, he asked if I had any questions.  Of course I only had one question: Are you going to kill us?  I decide not to actually ask this since it would be rude if he wasn’t planning on killing us and if not, why even plant the idea in his head.

And although Frederic was a foreigner, his “story” was purely American.  He does Uber at night to help pay off his large student loan debt.

But incredibly, Frederic was very pleasant to ride with and never even mentioned anything about killing us.  We got to hotel promptly and even saved $20!!!!  I think I will use the money to buy candy.  I gave Frederic a 5-star rating, although my wife was disappointed I couldn’t award him 6.

I felt some guilt disobeying my father’s command, but I really enjoyed the Uber experience. Our return Uber trip was terrific also! Those people who are afraid to try Uber are just stubborn, old-fashioned, fools who don’t want to embrace modern technology and such.  And sometimes, even those crazy Millennials know what they’re talking about.   

Monday, October 30, 2017

I Am Suddenly A Fantastic Golfer

It’s autumn in Northeast Ohio and another season of golf has come to an end.  Fortunately, I was able to play all the golf I wanted this year. Which interestingly enough was the same amount of golf I have played the previous 12 years – none.

You see, I’m a terrible golfer.  I know many people say that, but they are merely bad golfers.  I however, am truly a horrendous, gawd-awful, putrid golfer.  I should had quit the game years before I did. I will now publicly apologize to anyone I have ever golfed with or anyone who has suffered pain or property damage from one of my errant shots. I am sorry, I am oh so sorry.

Some guys will sit in the nursing home regretting that they worked too much and did not play enough golf.  I will be sitting beside them regretting that I played any golf at all.  And it’s not like I played a lot of golf, because I hate golfing. Hate it oh so badly.

I began playing in high school because my good friend John golfed and it looked like fun.  I kept playing occasionally because friends would invite me or there would be work events in which you were “expected” to participate. Where your value as a business person would somehow depend on your skill as a golfer. Needless to say, my golfing ability never advanced my career, on the contrary, it may have helped to sink it – just like my normal tee shot on the 4th hole at the Legends Golf Course where you shoot over, (whoops!) where you are supposed to shoot over the lake.

I once even joined a golf league at church since it seemed like the Christian, holy, fellowship-type thing to do.  Even when provided with an astronomical handicap, my partner and I finished in last place both years I played.  I did make my mark on the league though.  Early in the second season, my partner Steve moved to South Dakota. I’m sure he did leave to take a new job and not to avoid finishing last again due to my awful scores.  I replaced him with my friend from work, Roger.  But Roger had a quirk.  If he hit a bad shot, he swore. Even if he hit it a good shot, he swore.  Roger liked to swear on the golf course and *#%&!!*, he sure swore a lot. While it was highly amusing to me, it was somehow not appreciated in church league golf.  Between my atrocious play and Roger’s potty mouth, I decided it was best for all involved to quit while I was behind.

I played golf on and off for over 30 years.  I would golf, golf terribly, and then quit the game. Inexplicably, I would try again.  I first golfed left-handed (the way I swing a baseball bat), then right-handed, then left-handed again and finally the last 15 years or so, right-handed.  I would joke and tell people that I could golf equally well right or left handed.  They would be impressed until they witnessed my tee shot. And I say “witnessed”, because the way I swing a golf club is a crime.

It is also interesting that my last round of golf was just as terrible as my first   In 30 years of trying to improve my game, I failed and I failed miserably.  And I did make an effort to improve, but I never did.  I couldn’t even work my way up from horrible to “fair”. Of anything I have ever attempted to do in life, golf is my biggest failure.

At one point I even bought golf shoes, just like a good golfer. As if the shoes ever had the ability to improve my horrible game.  These shoes would have had to possess more magical powers than Dorothy’s ruby slippers. “There’s no place like (the) hole”.

The whole idea of striking a golf ball never made sense to me.  The poor ball is just sitting there on the tee waiting for you to wallop it.  But you can’t just wallop it.  You have to keep your knees bent, head down, elbow in, eye on the ball, blah, blah, blah.  You also must clear your mind of all distractions and focus exclusively on all the mechanics required for a smooth shot.  I’m intelligent enough to know what I am supposed to do.  But somewhere between approaching the ball and hitting it a voice inside my head will drown out everything else. “KILL IT! KILL IT NOW! KILL IT BEFORE IT RUNS AWAY! 

So evidently my primal instincts believe the ball is food and must be subdued before it flees.  And even though I know it is wrong, I swing as hard as I can at that weak, defenseless ball and it goes flying off in some random direction.  Golfing with me was dangerous, but my fellow linksters soon learned that the safest place to stand when I hit an approach shot was on the green by the pin and they would point that out to me.  Those pompous bass-turds!

But I don’t have to worry about it anymore because this summer I gave away my clubs. They had sat in the garage, neglected for the past 13 years.  They would often mock me when I walked past. “Hey doofus, why don’t you use us?  We know why! Because you suck at golf! Boy do you suck! My young friend Colin, was taking up golf and looking for a cheap set of clubs. I was so eager to get rid of these things that I gave him my clubs (except for my putter which I kept for miniature golf).  No need to pay, just remove this from my life!  Usually
All that is left of my golf stuff
I have feelings when parting with objects that have sentimental value. But oddly, maybe sadly, I felt nothing as Colin drove away with my clubs.  I later messaged him to find out how his golf game is progressing, but there was no reply.  Perhaps my atrocious golf skills somehow got ingrained into those clubs.  Poor Colin! He probably sucks at golf and it’s my fault.

I never, ever enjoyed playing golf. It was like going to the dentist. I endured it, but I was so glad when the round was over. Why was it ever important to me to become a proficient golfer? Oh the good golfers will inflate it’s importance, because they are of course, good at it.  Some will even say your manhood depends on a low golf score.  But what is golf, really?  It is hitting an object, with a stick, at a target. In a sense, it is just glorified croquet.

Attaining a great golf swing creates no really useful skill whatsoever.  Cavemen probably hit rocks with tree limbs for utter amusement and then the Scots eventually turned it into a game.  No, not a sport, a game.  And in our wacked out culture we create special sticks to strike the object which can cost up to $1,300 each.  We also pay millions of dollars to our golf-gods who have mastered striking the object with these expensive sticks.  This would even confuse a caveman. “Ugg!  Me hooked it!  Stupid branch.”

However, a while back I saw a meme which read: “The object of golf is to play the least amount of golf”.  Brilliant!  How pleasurable can an activity be if the goal is to do it less?  This would imply that it is a dreadful, useless game which should be avoided at all costs.

This revelation changed my outlook on golf entirely.  I am not a horrible golfer.  I am a masterful golfer because over the last 13 years, none of these so called skilled linksters has played less golf than I have.

With this new, profound perspective, I immediately booked a trip to Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament. My scorecard from the day is shown below:

As you can see, I had a most exemplarily round.  I mastered the dog leg to the left on Hole #5 by doggone leaving it alone.  I made a tremendous approach shot on #7 by hitting my none-iron and skillfully avoided the pond on #16 by circumventing the hole all together.  If fact, I evaded every hazard on the course and didn’t miss a putt.  This enabled me to proceed directly to the clubhouse bar and talk some jive with the barmaids. It was just a fantastic day.

The life lesson here is to not waste your time, effort and resources on things you do not really enjoy and will never have proficiency in. Instead, find those things that bring you joy and experience these to the fullest.  So I encourage those great golfers to continue to strike that object, with that stick, to hit that target.  You do it well and I’m glad you enjoy it.  But I will not be joining you on the links (which is beneficial and much safer for you), because I literally have better things, for me, to do.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Transforming Into The Perfect Gentleman

I’ve reached the point in my life where I don’t need to compete with people and I can put the needs of others in front of my own.  I can be more charming, gracious, courteous, polite, well-mannered and chivalrous.  I strive to distinguish myself by carefully listening to what others say and then reply in a wise, well-spoken manner.  Yes, my personal goal in life right now is to become a “gentleman”.

Of course, this is how I should have behaved my entire life, but that didn’t always happen.  Okay, that didn’t happen enough. Alright, there were times it didn’t happen at all.  But now I am older, and wiser, with a much-improved perspective on life.

The peculiar thing is that most women expect men to act like gentlemen and are attracted to those who do.  But few men exhibit these traits. We don’t do this, because we are men, and we have a male brain, we have testosterone, and man parts.  Add that all together and we seldom resemble gentlemen. Sadly, from what woman tell me and what I see on social media, gentlemanly behavior is decreasing.   The older generations have forgotten how to be chivalrous and I sense that Millennial guys don’t have a clue on how to treat women.

For example, a few months ago, I attending a reception at a fancy country club (Yes, they invited me and I didn’t crash it for the free appetizers). I waited and held the door for a gorgeous young woman. She was so surprised by this gesture, she actually blushed.  Hey, when a guy my age can make a damsel blush, in a good way, it’s a great day.  Likewise, when I was polite on a recent flight, the foxy flight attendant cooed, “such nice manners”.  So Millennial guys, listen up!  If you want to differentiate yourself from the pack, work on your manners!  

I believe a major reason there are less gentlemen, and especially younger gentlemen, is the attitude of some “ultra-liberated” chicks.  These women feel the need to criticize men who hold doors open for them or perform other polite gestures.  Being criticized by a woman, and especially a beautiful woman, in public is crushing to the male ego, particularly the young-male ego.  But let me say this to the younger guys: If a woman berates you when you are doing something good, what do you think will happen when you do something bad?  You don’t want this type of woman, so why do you even care what she says.  Better to let her go become some other poor guys problem, regardless of how she looks.  And at my age, I am done with apologizing when I do the right thing and someone else has a problem with it. D-O-N-E - done.  If I encounter one of those ultra-libs, I just smile and say “You’re welcome” and if that fizzes them off more, uh, good.

So, I am making significant progress on becoming a perfect gentleman, but there are forces, nefarious forces, working against me.  This struggle is going to be much more arduous than I ever imagined when you consider this ……

Recently I joined a group of people playing euchre on Monday nights.  My first night there I was quiet and reserved (I’m serious) by design because as you know, Don Ake is an acquired taste and most people can’t handle the “full Donnie” right away.

Near the end of the evening, there was important hand in which Linda, a sweet, quiet, reserved lady, needed to take the final two tricks (the fourth and fifth) to win the game.  The fourth trick started with Linda playing third and me last. When it was Linda’s turn, she had a difficult decision about which card to play. She looked at the cards on the table, then looked at her cards, then more thinking, more hesitation.  Well, I knew by her indecision that she could not beat both of the cards I was holding. She was not winning the game. But she was taking way too long to decide. Finally, she looked at me for an indication (a tell, in poker terms) on what card I was going to play next. Without changing expression, or looking directly at her, I discretely lifted up my hand on the table and revealed my cards to only her.

“YOU @SS!” she shouted as she threw her cards on the table.

The players at our table were stunned.  Play even stopped at the other tables, everyone starring in our direction.  Andy, the group leader, rushed over to find out what despicable thing the “new guy” had done to elicit such a bad reaction from this pleasant woman.  But when he learned I was innocent, he still had a problem; a first-time player had just been publicly insulted.

Andy spun over to me with a worried expression. “You okay?” he inquired.

“I’m fine.  It’s nothing I haven’t heard before. However, I usually have to say something to get that type of response.  Maybe she’s just very perceptive,” I reasoned.

He looks at me incredulously, “You’re not upset?”

“No, I’m fine,” I assured him.

Andy grinned, and we have been friends ever since. Even Linda likes me, well tolerates me, now.  My nickname in the euchre group is now is “@ss”

I thought that was just a fluke, but the following week I was at a party, talking to my friend Lori. I was relating a recent conversation I had with a colleague. “You are such as @ss”! she exclaimed.

Then I realized my wife had recently used the term several times when she had been displeased by my behavior on our recent vacation.  When you’re in your 20s and women refer to you as an @ss, it’s a good thing. When you are in your 50s, not so much.

This was not a fluke, but a trend!  I couldn’t accept this characterization so I looked up the definition of @ss to see if my accusers were correct.  Well, according to the slang dictionaries an @ss is “a foolish or stupid person”. I knew this didn’t fit.  These women were not implying I was a dolt.   Definitions do evolve and even the Internet is slow to keep up sometimes, so I kept looking.

Then I saw the term “pompous @ss”.  Could this expression be changing in that people leave out the pompous part and just say @ss?  I was confident that in no way I am at all pompous, but I googled the definitions just to be sure.
The search returned: self-important, imperious, overbearing, domineering, magisterial, pontifical, sententious, grandiose, affected, pretentious, puffed up, arrogant, vain, haughty, proud, conceited, egotistic, supercilious, condescending, patronizing, portentous, turgid, vainglorious.

Come on guys, it’s just one word. If you take 23 other words to define one word, you are obviously trying too hard and you don’t know what you are doing.  I’m a busy, important person and I don’t have time for your cute, little word games.

But I am relieved that after quickly perusing this list that I am definitely not pompous.

Magisterial? – Never practiced magic in my life.

Pontifical? – I’m not even Catholic.

Sententious? Well maybe, but I’m an author so I have to use lots of sentences.

Turgid? Absolutely not! I use 24-hour deodorant daily and my Mary Kay cologne.

Egotistical? Come on, I’m better than that.

The sentence example used was:  "a pompous @ss who pretends he knows everything".  Of course, this doesn’t pertain to me, because I don’t need to pretend now, do I?

To be absolutely certain that I have no pompousness whatsoever, I made a list of these words and asked my wife if any of them remotely described me.  I read them to her one at a time. On the first two she just looked at me bug-eyed. After the third word, she started laughing hysterically, face red, gasping for air.  I decided to stop there for strictly health reasons.

I then read the list to my co-worker Ron, a pleasant guy who never says anything bad about anybody.  This time I started at the other end of the list.   It was weird.  Ron was silent until I got to the fourth word and then he claimed he had forgotten to finish a critical report and had to go. And strangely enough he had told me at the beginning of the call that he had plenty of time to talk!

I must conclude I have reached the age where I don’t care so much about what others think of me.  While this is liberating and has positive aspects, it also enables some of my irritating qualities to leak out.  Maybe I’m not as careful in hiding these deficiencies, or it could be I am now less skilled at it. At some point in life you accept who you are and concede that you are not going to change.  Call it the Popeye Principle: “I yam what I yam and dats what I yam!”.

So as I strive to become the perfect gentleman, I am also naturally transforming into a greater @ss.  As I exude more charm and graciousness, I also show more arrogance.  I guess trying to figure out who you really are never ceases, it literally takes a lifetime.